USA: In a move that it is said will save an estimated $156m per month, a coalition of US States has forced the US Department of Energy to commit to updating energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, metal halide lamps, electric motors and commercial refrigeration equipment.

The coalition of 11 US States led by New York State attorney general Eric T Schneiderman have announced an agreement that commits the DOE to a timetable for updating energy efficiency standards for the four common commercial appliances after the DOE missed legal deadlines previously set by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

According to the group, strengthening the standards will result in substantial cuts in air, water and climate change pollution and save businesses and consumers across the country an estimated $156m per month and $3.8bn per year by 2035.

The agreement commits the DOE to a timetable that has all the four new standards finalised between January and May of next year with Schneiderman’s coalition saying it reserves the right to take legal action if the DOE fails to meet any of those deadlines.

Initially enacted in 1975, the EPCA requires the federal agency to meet specific deadlines for reviewing and revising energy efficiency standards for more than 50 categories of common US commercial and residential products that use large amounts of energy. Standards must be set at maximum efficiency levels that are technologically feasible and economically justified. In the case of walk-in coolers and freezers and metal halide lamps, EPCA required that updated standards be in place 18 months ago, by January 1, 2012. The act further required updated standards for commercial refrigeration equipment and electric motors to be in place by January 1, 2013.